Chance at redemption

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

It's a second crack at the Chicago Blackhawks for the Calgary Flames.

More importantly, the first crack since the Meltdown at the Madhouse on Madison.

Last time the Flames met the Blackhawks, it was unforgettable in a bad way for them.

They wasted a five-goal first-period lead and fell 6-5 in overtime in Chicago.

"That was an eye-opener for us," said Craig Conroy. "We've talked about playing better defensively, playing better. We've limited chances. It's a team we have to play well against. We want to beat them to get some confidence against them because we haven't had a lot of success the last two regular seasons against those guys."

Chicago's dominance of the Flames the past couple of seasons -- the Blackhawks won all four regular-season games last year, plus turfed Calgary in the playoffs -- went to a new level last month.

After jumping out to a 5-0 lead less than 12 minutes into the game, the Flames watched it disappear. It's the biggest lead surrendered by the team in its history and the first time the Flames did not win a game in which they had a lead of five or more goals.

"That's a fluky game. They have the capability to do that, no doubt about it, but it's something that shouldn't happen ever again," said left winger Eric Nystrom. "We're playing a lot better than we were in that game.

"We've made a lot more emphasis on playing better defensive hockey, not run-and-gun like that."

But are the Flames better to the point they'll slay the Blackhawks?

Calgary is coming off another night with a blown lead. Plus, the Flames have lost three of four at home.

"The tide's ready to turn at home," Nystrom said. "We're not giving up five goals a game anymore. We've done a lot better job at that. We've got to make sure we're playing solid defensive hockey against this team, because if you let them get into an up-and-down game, it's tough to beat a team like that."

Especially when a team believes it will always beat another, which is where the Blackhawks have to be right now.

"I don't get caught up too much in what's gone on in the past," said head coach Brent Sutter. "Just a week ago, everyone was saying we can't win in Montreal, and we went there and won a game. We hadn't won in Toronto in so long and won a game.

"History, I know it's there, but it's not that important to me. I know what we're about as a team. I know what our team is. I know when we're playing up to our capabilities we're a very good hockey team."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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